Rob Manfred says MLB won't consider adopting universal DH until 2022

Mark TownsendYahoo Sports Contributor

Baseball purists can breathe a little easier.

According to Major League Baseball commissioner Rob Manfred, the National League won’t be adopting a full-time designated hitter in 2019.

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Speaking Friday after an owners’ meeting in Orlando, Florida, Manfred explained that the proposal to implement a universal designated hitter for the upcoming season is a bit too ambitious.

According to the Associated Press, Manfred added that the complexity of the universal DH proposal will make it difficult to institute before the collective bargaining agreement ends in December 2021. That means the earliest we could see a universal DH is the 2022 season.

Pitchers like Madison Bumgarner (left) and Jeff Samardzija can keep raking in 2019. (AP)
Pitchers like Madison Bumgarner (left) and Jeff Samardzija can keep raking in 2019. (AP)

A universal DH was formally proposed by the Major League Baseball Player’s Association (MLBPA) in response to the league’s continued push for pace-of-play changes. Manfred says he remains focused on potential pace-of-play changes for 2019, which include a 20-second pitch clock and forcing relief pitchers to face a minimum of three batters to cut down on pitching changes.

Conversations regarding roster size and roster construction are reportedly still on the table. However, the league doesn’t seem too keen on entertaining other MLBPA proposals, such as implementing an earlier trade deadline and rewarding and penalizing teams in the draft based on their records.

Those, too, are looked at as more complex issues that won’t be settled until CBA talks pick up.

“Those are significant economic issues. They are different in kind than the type of playing-rule changes that we have out there,” Manfred said. “I think that there are pieces of their response on the on-field proposal that were very encouraging. I think what needs to be sorted out is how closely the two agendas are tied, in other words, the on-field stuff and the economic stuff.”

The prevailing feeling remains that a universal designated hitter will become a reality eventually. Given the players’ frustration over the recent slow-moving free-agent markets, they are definitely more determined to fight for changes they believe in.

From the league’s standpoint, the universal DH figures to be one battle they won’t be as determined to fight against.

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